November 2008 Archives

GovWorld=One mess

| | Comments (1)
Here's another progress report. I feel really overwhelmed now about the website. I'm filling in more information but it is starting to get cluttered I think. I need to find a way to make it so cluttered for lack of a better term. I also am no longer happy with the style, i.e background, fonts, colors, etc. Maybe it's because I've been looking at it for too long. I think I need to step back and make a to-do-list. I could also use some more usability testing although there still isn't very much to do on my site as far as navigation, but a fresh eye for design might not hurt.

  • make margins on the side to decrease the width of the pages
  • add links to words within the text
  • only make the home page have the background of the flag on it?
  • decrease/increase fonts
  • move pictures around
  • work on spacing in general
So far thats what I've got to do. I keep trying to do the touch ups before I even put all the information in. Perhaps that is why I am obsessing over the image. But, appeal is one of the main things that attracts users to your site.

Progress Report

| | Comments (0)

So I haven't done too much more on my website. I started creating the other pages and I changed the background. Now I realize I want to change the set up of my home page but am having difficulty moving things around where I want them. You would think that would be an easy task but I seem to be having problems. I need more content but I'm not quite sure how much to include.

I also appreciate the feedback and html help and ideas I got from people! Thanks keep em coming:) 

Alpha testing results

| | Comments (0)

Today in class we practiced some usability testing with our classmates on our partially finished products. I didn't have much done, just the homepage and links to my other pages included. I'm still not really happy with anything I've done yet. It just doesn't look very professional which is kind of what I was going for. But, I only know so much so I feel like that kind of limits me.

I recieved some good feedback from Andy and Denamarie who both looked at my site. I also had some help from Dave who showed me how to do some simple html things that I had forgotten. It's been a while since I have done anything with html so this whole process is going really slow. It took me several hours just to get a simple home page out. But maybe I'm being too particular. Anyway, I recieved some feedback that I should put a margin or border on the pages so the text isn't so stretched out across the page, which I agree because its a lot easier on the eyes. I also got the suggestion to include links to actual political news sites on my current news page and link. I already thought of this I just didn't get to implement it yet. But I think that will be a nice touch, and I have pictures that you can click on to go to the front for the story behind the picture.

I also got some compliments on the design. Dena said it was nice that there was no scrolling on the home page and Andy said he liked the layout. I was told it looked professional so thats a good sign I guess!

Now it's time to get to work on the other pages! 

Term Project Proposal

| | Comments (4)

So this is a scary adventure for me. In EL236 (Writing for the Internet) we are required to do an end of the semester term project. I chose to do a website. Now the reason it's scary is because I was never very good at html-ing when we started it. I improved a little but I still may need help so fellow classmates, hear me out. My goal is to keep improving here. 

Since I know that I like government and politics, I am basing my website on that criteria. I want to focus it on more current politics such as the recent election and what the President-Elect (Obama) has in store for the new year. I also want people to be informed a little on what is going on in the House and Senate. People complain too much about how ill-informed people who call themselves citizens of America are, so this is going to be a simple, informative couple of pages. I may need suggestions on where to narrow it down or some specific information about our current government that people may want to know. But the key word here is simple. I don't want to make politics more confusing than it already is. Also, Dr. Jerz gave me the idea to keep up a political blogroll that corresponds with the website. So I might give that a try but it probably won't go up until I have the website done.

Here are some informative government websites where I can hopefully take a few things from and apply it to my own site.


Portfolio 3- Intermediate

| | Comments (0)

As I reflect on the past few weeks since the last portfolio I submitted, I look back at my progress in EL236. I chose the title of this portfolio, intermediate, because I think it describes my position in this class (Writing for the Internet). I am past the beginner level and not yet an expert so therefore I would fall somewhere under the intermediate level. It also ties in nicely with the games we have been playing during this section of the class considering those are common words used in playing any kind of computer game.

This portfolio displays my work and thoughts throughout this portion of the class where we discusssed things like hypertext readings, IF adventure games, learned about usability testing, created inform 7 games, and got some great tips from Kilian and Krug on how to make a successful website. So here goes- Anne Williams' Portfolio 3.

Coverage- this shows links to readings that we did where quotes were included and a link back to the course homepage to view the assignment.  

Depth- This ones pretty self-explanitory.

Interaction- This shows peer comments on my blog entries and other responses I have gotten.

Timeliness- Basically blogs that I wrote and submitted on time.

Discussion- This entails my ability to keep an active blog relationship with my classmantes.

I expect that my next porfolio will contain new things that I have learned in EL236 with new insights and new ideas. Perhaps I will still be at an intermediate level or maybe I will become in expert! It is all in my hands, but in whatever I do, I learn. And thats all that counts.

Krug Critique

| | Comments (0)

Although it has been some time since we have finished the Krug readings in EL236, the chapters still remain in my head. I think this book, Don't Make Me Think!, has stuck with me more so than the other required readings. Krug's way with words and simple descriptions really get readers involved and make creating a successful website seem easy.

Yes it seems easy but look at how many people write in to him and ask him to do usability tests on their sites or give feedback of what he, as a professional, thinks. You would think that by simply following his tips in the book on organization, home pages, navigation, etc., there would not be problems. But we are all human, which Krug takes into account based on his humbling messages that make people feel okay when they screw up! It's not the end of the world and I believe Krug really stresses this fact by trying to ease readers fears about creating a webpage.

As far as this book being created in 2000 goes, I think its pretty universal in the fact that this information is not going to change. His ideas and tips are basically standard for creating a website and doing usability testing. Some of the sites he references to (like Amazon) probably change every year, so an updated book may have more updated websites that apply to his teachings. However, I think this book could last another 10 years.

I don't have a lot of constructive criticism to give out but there are things that I think should not be changed given the knowledge that another book would be coming out. I thought the use of pictures and example sites was a nice touch. Having that visual really put it into perspective for me and I was able to compare what he was describing in the reading with an almost life-like experience. I also liked how he kept his chapters short (give or take a few). By doing this Krug is, as they say, 'practicing what you preach'. The same efforts were also found in the Kilian readings.

Here are some more of my thoughts on Krug that go chapter by chapter.

My Edits are gone!

| | Comments (1)

So, I waited the weekened out to check on the edits I made on the two Wikipedia pages and sadly found that one is gone.

I first checked the field hockey page and saw that all the things I added were no longer there. This was actually no big surprise. It's not that I lied in any of the additions I just think that they were already said before so it was kind of redundant. The hair straigthener page I found had one of my edits there but the other was erased. I honestly think that the person scanning the page did not see my one entry because it was in the middle of a large paragraph where as my other one was at the very beginning in the second sentence. It was also not really accurate. 

Now I realize how much Wikipedia is updated and changed. But I also realize that it depends on the subject you are researching. For example, field hockey is a sport that has been around for a long time. All the rules remain the same and the game is still played the same way so there is nothing new to add to it really. On the other hand, hair straighteners change all the time. They come out with more modern models every year and there are many different tips that women have that can be added to information pages like Wikipedia that may benefit other women who straighten their hair.

 I found that my peer's entries were mostly erased as well. So does that mean that you have to make some sort of name for yourself before other users can accept your info? I wonder who actually has more authority in Wikipedia or is it every freeman to himself or what about a line of authority? Any difference between someone who has been editing pages for years compared to a first time college kid messing up a page for a homework assignment?

Anyway, I don't understand the world of Wikipedia very well but I still think its pretty neat. It gives people a chance to add a bit of their knowledge into the internet world. Wikipedia is such a big name that it actually matters what goes in there. I think there are people  that take it as a joke but then again there are people who take it very seriously. (obviously)

As a final thought, I wonder if any of my teachers or professors use Wikipedia on a regular basis or make edits to it as well? (besides your Dr. Jerz, sorry.) 


Wikipedia: Creating a Welcoming Environment!

| | Comments (2)

"Wikipedia greatly appreciates additions that help all people."

Wikipedia's Key Policies and Guidelines actually show true dedication to their users and contributors. They really try to make it a place where people can feel comfortable with the information they retrieve. However, it is kind of impossible to completely weed out all the bad reports and jokesters who use wikipedia as a game.

In their policies they mention to avoid any bias, respect copyrights and contributors, and make sure you have verifiable information. This is a lot to ask of a regular Joe. I was a regular Joe when I went in and edited two Wikipedia pages and I got some information from other sources but most of it I based off of knowledge that I already knew.

Wikipedia plays the honesty game. Everyone is on scouts honor. It's completely up to you to use your better judgement to put credible information on pages and to make sure to doublecheck what you do read.

However, after reading their Five Pillars, I think it's kind of cool that there is a site that exists like that. A site where people have free will and can use it to better (or worsen) the flow of knowledge. It's like going back to kindergarden and the teacher giving you 5 rules that you must follow; like being nice to other children except in Wikipedia world its, follow the code of conduct. 

In conclusion, you have to use good judgement when you view Wikipedia. It's just common sense.

Wikipedia Comparisons

| | Comments (2)

I chose a Wikipedia page about field hockey because I know all of the rules about it and have played it for 9 years. When I clicked on Edit this page, it cautioned me to log in first or else my IP address would be recorded publicly in the pages edit history. It then went on to explain that if you create an account, you can conceal your IP address and be provided with "benefits". You can scroll through the original text of the page's information and edit it there.

As I scanned through the Saint Vincet and Seton Hill pages on Wikipedia, I found them to be pretty similar. They had the same amount of information and generally the same content. Most of the information was accurate and up to date (more so on Seton Hill's page). They both had pitcures of the school and the mascott logo. Saint Vincent had a history and traditions section while Seton Hill just had one big paragraph with that information on it.

As far as the history and discussion links, I found it difficult to get any real information out of them because you were required to log in to get the discussions. I found those sections hard to navigate. On the history of editing pages, I think most of them were done by administrators or professors based on the usernames- I could tell which names were made by students-.

Overall I was kind of looking forward to seeing something that wasn't true on either page but I couldn't really find anything that caught my eye. I also don't know enough about St. Vincents to know if there was a mistake. I guess I was expecting to find some crazy comment that a student left in the history page but I couldn't access that information. Perhaps this is telling me that I need to become more informed about the Wiki-world.

Wiki-articles: Spiro & Orlowski

| | Comments (0)

Is Wikipedia Becoming a Reasonable Academic Source?

...."an encyclopedia can be a valid starting point for research." (Spiro)

Ok let's be real. I know so many people who use Wikipedia to get general information on a subject they are researching, and then not site it. I will admit that I have gone there. I use Wikipedia to get a sense of where to start and retrieve some general facts about something I may know very little about. Then I use that information, mostly in my own words, and put it into my paper. Now I have been told time and time again not to use Wikipedia at all so I tend to stray away from it now. But like the quote from the article, "Is Wikipedia Becoming a Reasonable Academic Source?" by Lisa Spiro, Wikipedia can be a good starting point for any research paper. It gives you that general knowledge you may need to get started. It can help you branch out.

This article definitely took a positive look on the well known database of Wikipedia. I was kind of shocked to see that several professional writers/scholars have cited Wikipedia in their works without shame. Citations can even be found in scholarly journals like, American Quarterly, College Literature, Advertising and Society Review, etc. Althought these numbers are few, they do exist.

I have only even heard from teachers and professors to never use Wikipedia when writing a paper so I tend to steer clear of it now except when I need to get definitions or general information for other purposes. Wikipedia can be criticized as taking the easy way out. From this knowledge, I feel as though professional writers and scholars are safe when they use Wikipedia as a source because they have more experience in the writing world and know what's out there, than say high school or college students who may use it to save time on research. In any case I think its safe to say that the cons outweigh the pros of Wikipedia. Spiro mentions the some common criticisms of it.

  • Research projects shouldn't rely on Encyclopedias
  • Since Wikipedia is constantly undergoing revisions, it is too unstable to cite
  • You can't trust Wikipedia because anyone- including people with no expertise, strong biases or malicious intent- can contribute to it annonymously.
  • Wikipedia entries lack authority because there is no peer review.

These are all valid arguments against Wikipedia, especially the fact that anyone can go in and change information- which I just found out about a few years ago. However, Spiro makes a good point when she says, "...through the back and forth between "passionate amateurs," experts, and Wikipedia guardians protecting against vandals, good stuff often emerges."

I think as long as there are experts out there using Wikipedia that care about what is put out there, there's a good chance that the information you get is pretty accurate. It might be a good idea to keep checking up on it though! 


There's No Wikipedia entry for 'Moral Responsibilty'

"If what we today know as "Wikipedia" had started life as something called, let's say - "Jimbo's Big Bag O'Trivia" - we doubt if it would be the problem it has become." (Orlowski)

I must say that in comparison to the previous Wikipedia article, this was quite a rant. I found it hard to follow his arguement but I can obviously tell that he has a problem with the world of Wikipedia and those who contribute.

I found the Seiganthaler case to be especially interesting. I have heard of people changing facts on Wikipedia but I never saw an example of it. Everything I have looked at on Wikipedia has seemed fairly accurate from what I know but it takes a sharp eye to pick out the misinformation- which is too bad for Brian Chase. He was simply playing a joke that turned out to harm some other guys name on the web. I don't think he meant any harm in it but some people take Wikipedia very seriously and catch these mistakes.

However I don't believe Wikipedia should be held liable for any of these temperments. But I also don't really think its a good idea to let people change that kind of information in the first place unless there is stricter supervision on what can be submitted.

Generally, I think the author made a good point about being aware of what you read on Wikipedia, he just went about it in a sarcastic tone, which can be an effective way of getting something across, especially those who feel adamately pro-wikipedia. From the quote above, I think Wikipedia has turned into a tool for pop culture that is being taken advantage of by today's culture and society.  

Okay, Krug's actual last stand (last chapter)

| | Comments (0)

There is not too much to say about this last chapter. There was a short summary that mainly consisted of Krug telling his readers to refer back to his book when they think they might make a mistake and reminding them to always test! There was one (actually two) "lessons"/ new information in this last chapter.

It discussed what to do when a boss gives you bad suggestions or ideas. The two he pointed out or got the most feedback from was:

  • Providing too much personal information
  • Making your site have more pizazz

Apparently a lot of bosses suggest these two things, but with good intentions of course. They don't really know that they are bad ideas and that a designer should never use them. Users do not want to give you their life story. If a site asks for some indentification or private information that is respectable than more users will be willing to fill it out. I hate it when there is a huge, long list of things I have to put in from my birth date to my favorite color. A lot of that info is unneccessary.

The other problem, the pizazz problem, often turns out messy, unorganized, and distracting. That's pretty much all there is to say on that topic. Appearance is good but it can go too far just like too much of anything can....

Once again Krug came through with the example boxes and provided some written email samples of how he addressed those issues to the bosses of the designers and their company. I thought they were honest but in good taste. I don't think I would write one of those to my boss though, I think I would get Krug to email him.

Looking back on this book, I thought it was very well written and tasteful. I liked the use of examples, and the "easy reading" style. It made for a quick read and I picked up alot from chapters because he made them short and to the point.

The End

Recent Comments

John on Krug's Last Stand: i agree with the point that we
David Wilbanks on GovWorld=One mess: I think you got a few of those
Aero Windwalker on Term Project Proposal: I have a webpage done in this
Dave Wilbanks on Term Project Proposal: I agree that the focus might b
Dennis G. Jerz on Term Project Proposal: I agree with Jed... you might
Jed Fetterman on Term Project Proposal: I don't want to sound too crit
Jackie Johns on My Edits are gone!: You point out some interesting
Jed Fetterman on Wikipedia Comparisons: I got the impression that some
Daniella Choynowski on Wikipedia Comparisons: I didn't really get any inform
Daniella Choynowski on Wikipedia: Creating a Welcoming Environment!: I read the wikipedia rules as
Powered by Movable Type